Competing boats travelled from all along the West coast and even from as far as Cowes on the Isle of Wight, to challenge local entries in last week’s West of Ireland Sailing Championships (WIORA), including defending champion ‘Tribal’ from Galway Bay Sailing Club.
Racing got under-way Wednesday afternoon in testing conditions with wind blowing force 5 to 6 on the Beaufort scale for a coastal race for all classes, taking the fleets out to the Western Margaretta mark in the middle of Galway Bay before a long ‘white knuckle ride’ under spinnaker towards Kinvara. A number of broaches cost valuable seconds but luckily no serious damage before the return leg around Kilcolgan Point and Leverets Lighthouse to finish at the harbour.
For the ensuing three days, lighter conditions prevailed, allowing more tactical racing on ‘Windward-Leward’ courses with Thursday’s race taking boats close to the Salthill shore as they rounded the laid windward mark. Leaders in the various classes started to emerge as the week went on, but in Class One it was turning into a close battle between GBSC’s ‘Now What’ and ‘Joie de Vie’ as they match raced each other around the bay.
Temporary distraction was provided on Friday morning as a lone piper on Nimmo’s Pier played lamenting tunes as the fleet left the Harbour. The arrival of the beautiful tall ship ‘Belem’ added to the occasion. A beautiful sight, she was first launched in 1896 trading mostly in the West Indies and Guyana before being owned by the Duke of Westminster and also by AE Guinness.
Results were decided in fickle winds on Saturday as ‘Tribal’ emerged winner in Class 2, and Tralee’s ‘Jaguar’ took Class 3. The White Sail class, often referred to as the Gentleman’s Class, was taken by ‘Jabiru’ from The Royal Western YC, Kilrush. Class 1 was a dead heat, needing the countback to separate ‘Joie de Vie’ and ‘Now What’. But with ‘Joie de Vie’ having won the last race, Glenn Cahill and his crew were declared the winner.
With all boats safely back inside the Harbour and the lock gates closed, it was off to the Harbour Hotel for prize giving and further celebrations for ‘Joie de Vie’ as they were declared Overall WIORA winners for 2015.There was further celebration as Inis Mor won in their bid to host WIORA, for their first time, in 2017. Champagne corks popped as the curtains were drawn on a fantastic event and crews faded into the city to enjoy the festivities of Galway International Arts Festival.